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TransLink riders must now wear masks at indoor or sheltered stops

A woman wearing a face mask is seen on a bus in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Aug 4, 2020. The British Columbia Provincial health officer asked the public transit authorities to implement a mandatory mask policy like some other provinces in Canada. In Regina, the city is requiring all people who are riding public transit to wear a mask. The new rules comes into effect on Friday, Aug. 21. Liang Sen/Xinhua of ZUMA Press

TransLink passengers must now wear masks while boarding or waiting for transit at any indoor or sheltered stations and stops.

The policy change came on Friday, and a week after the province’s new rules requiring a mask to be worn in all indoor, public spaces in a bid to control the second wave of COVID-19.

Transit riders have been required to wear masks on transit vehicles for months. The new rules extend the policy to include stations, platforms, bus stops, bus loops, and bus exchanges.

Face shields are no longer a suitable option in place of a non-medical mask or face covering.

Click to play video 'Fight breaks out on TransLink bus after passenger allegedly refuses to wear mask' Fight breaks out on TransLink bus after passenger allegedly refuses to wear mask
Fight breaks out on TransLink bus after passenger allegedly refuses to wear mask – Sep 27, 2020

But the union representing TransLink bus drivers says more security officers will be necessary to enforce the rules.

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“Insufficient transit security and police presence has put drivers in the dangerous position of dealing with passengers who refuse to comply with public health regulations that require masks onboard public busses,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a statement.

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“The drivers are responsible for the safe operation of the vehicles to get members of the public where they need to go but not at the risk of their own health and safety.”

According to TransLink, about 95 per cent of passengers are already wearing masks on transit.

TransLink expects all customers to comply with the changes required as part of the ministerial order,” a TransLink press release reads.

Transit police will engage with any customer not wearing an appropriate face covering and will issue $230 fines for anyone breaking the rules.

Customers who see others not following the rules can notify TransLink’s customer information team and should not try to enforce the mask order themselves.

Click to play video 'Charges pending after B.C. man reacts violently to request to wear a mask' Charges pending after B.C. man reacts violently to request to wear a mask
Charges pending after B.C. man reacts violently to request to wear a mask – Nov 26, 2020

The province’s mask mandate allows for exemptions.

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Read more: Coronavirus: Public calls for more enforcement for BC Transit’s mandatory mask policy

Anyone under the age of 12 is not legally required to wear a mask, but the province recommends that anyone two years of age and older should do so when in public indoor spaces.

People who can’t physically or psychologically put on a mask, or who can’t wear a mask without the assistance of others, are exempt.

TransLink had offered qualified customers a branded card that notes they are exempt from wearing a face covering, but will stop issuing the cards as it is unable to exempt customers from a ministerial order.